The Opposition View: Carlisle

Mike Jones
Mike Jones
Conor Chaplin could start againsyt Plymouth. Picture: Joe Pepler

Pompey v Plymouth: pre-match talking points

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Under Keith Curle, last season represented one of Carlisle’s best for a number of years.

There was no relegation battle and the Cumbrians occupied the top half of League Two for most of the campaign.

There were also a couple of really good cup runs which changed the tone a little bit, definitely much needed.

On balance, 10th spot was a good season and finally a step forward for Carlisle.

This summer the board have backed Curle budget-wise as much as they possibly could and he has filled in a few gaps and signed creative players.

The team ran out of gas from January to March last season, struggling to create and looking sterile, so on that basis it appears the squad is progressing.

I think supporters would probably expect a good challenge, certainly for the play-offs.

You never quite know with Carlisle, they don’t necessarily have the strongest squad in the division but, having this summer recruited talented players from rivals, they should be at the right end of the competition.

I am not sure about the capabilities to achieve automatic promotion, but they can be in the mix for the top seven if they get off to a reasonable start.

There have been nine players to arrive since last season, with Northampton’s Nicky Adams sneaking in quite early and attracting a bit of the budget.

Mike Jones has come in from Oldham, Reggie Lambe from Mansfield, Jamie Devitt and Shaun Miller from Morecambe, Shaun Brisley from Peterborough, Joe McKee from Morton, Russell Penn from York and Macaulay Gillesphey on loan from Newcastle.

Goalkeeper Max Crocombe might be another addition, with the club without a number two at present.

Looking back at last year, Curle’s side was really motoring in November/December and by Christmas it appeared they may have a real pop at promotion.

Then they slipped away.

Jabo Ibehre’s goals dried up, coinciding with family issues as his daughter was suffering from Meningitis, which understandably took its toll on him.

They lost a couple of players to injuries at awkward times, while two cup runs probably sapped them a little bit.

Having said that, they still could have negotiated the second half of the season a bit better.

In the end the loan players were not making much of an impact and the team was scrambling around for ideas, which was a shame.

But Carlisle are stronger now and expectations are for a better season.